Jim Harbaugh is one of the best coaches in football, at any level. One of the qualities that makes him great is the ability to whip up media attention.
Whether he’s antagonizing peers, sleeping over at recruits’ homes, running satellite camps in rivals’ backyards, or taking his team to the Vatican, Harbaugh garners the spotlight.
Now Harbaugh is taking his antics to a new level.
In an attempt to stir up media coverage, Harbaugh has invited Barack and Michelle Obama to be honorary captains for a Michigan Wolverine home game.
From SB Nation:
The Obamas may be out of the White House, but there’s a chance we could see them on the sidelines at a college football game this fall. Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh said over the weekend that he plans to ask both Michelle and Barack to serve as honorary captains for a Wolverines home game this season.
“We’re making those asks. Official asks,” Harbaugh told reporters via ESPN. “In the process of making an official ask. There’s been, ‘Hey, we’d like you to do it,’ and now we’re doing official asks.”
Harbaugh added that he spent a good “39 minutes” with President Obama over the weekend. The Michigan head coach’s son Jay was also in attendance.
Jay serves as the Wolverines’ running backs coach. It may be surprising that Harbaugh and the Obamas have linked up, but the head coach has a previous relationship with the former first couple. Harbaugh was invited to the Obamas’ farewell party in January, where he also hung out with Usher.
According to The Detroit News, Harbaugh has worked with Michelle Obama in the past, specifically with her Reach Higher Initiative, which promotes higher education. The newspaper adds that he’s been to the White House multiple times.
If the Obamas accept, my guess is there’s a good chance the two could be on-hand for the Ohio State game, which is slated for Nov. 25 from The Big House. Guess we’ll have to wait and see.
If the Obamas were to accept Harbaugh’s invitation, it would help drum up press coverage for the program.
Michigan is one of the most recognizable brands in college football, but the state has distinct recruiting disadvantages.
The school is located in Ann Arbor, which is not a hub of high school football talent. The state as a whole isn’t a particularly fertile recruiting area. Detroit by far has the most talent in the state, but Michigan’s academic standards keep a lot of players away.
As a result, Michigan must recruit nationally, which means keeping eyeballs on the program at all times.
Harbaugh reaching out to the Obamas is clearly a calculated move that could pay off.
However, Obama is usually consistent about shilling specifically for his beloved Chicago teams. Collaborating with Michigan–a conference rival of Northwestern and Illinois–may not provide any upside.
That said, Obama is currently cashing checks for speaking engagements. If Michigan ponies up enough money, they just might get the Obamas.
After all, Michigan did just send their entire team to see the Pope.